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912icon.gif (7313 bytes)"Once a fact, always a truth"

Objective
To learn that what one thought was truth or factual can change and that change can result in totally rethinking the topic.

Background
Youth in grades 9 through 12 may believe that what is taught or told as truth can never be anything but the truth. In reality, many things once thought to be true have since been discovered to be not true. For instance, as late as the early 1940’s scientists believed humans could never fly at the speed of sound or land a man on the moon. Not so long ago, many believed the electric typewriter was the ultimate in word processing - the computer and its word processing capabilities were not even considered. Access to car telephones was imagined to be available to only a few, wealthy individuals. Flying across the Atlantic Ocean in a supersonic jet in relatively few hours was considered a fantasy. Twenty years ago open heart surgery was experimental; today it saves thousands of lives every year. However, things do change. Inventions and progress result in change that needs to be processed and understood by everyone.

In the area of drug use and abuse, change has also occurred. Elementary and middle school students are increasingly involved with drugs. Certain drugs that were believed to have become less attractive and popular are returning in more potent forms. Marijuana is one of them. Youths feel they know a lot about marijuana but it has become a more powerful and damaging drug. It used to be considered a less serious substance. Many have even pushed to legalize it. But the truth is the marijuana being used by youth and adults today is more potent, and it is still illegal. The medical community is also becoming increasingly aware of the damaging side effects of marijuana use. High school students may be under many misconceptions about marijuana, just as they are about other facts that have changed, such as the danger of unprotected sex or chewing tobacco. Youths of this age need to know that the use of all drugs is illegal for their age group. They also need to know that what others say about a certain substance may not be accurate and they need to get accurate information about it.

Resources
The resources needed for this lesson are a chalkboard and some sample newspapers, magazines, or tabloids for gathering the information needed to complete the major activity of this lesson. A warm, accepting atmosphere is also important because the students may experience some discomfort when they realize that everything others say or write as truth may not be so.

Teacher tips
The primary link between this lesson’s activities and drug use prevention is for students to understand that they must always check sources before they buy into, believe, or act on something. This is the central aspect of the teacher response to each activity and to the student work generated by the activities.

Activities
As a warm-up activity, have students think about something they once thought was true and later found out it was not true (such as, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, that they would live forever). When they have given thought to this, have them consider the following: a) how did they find out the truth, b) what was it like to discover the truth, c) who did they learn the truth from, d) how did knowing the truth change them, and e) how does this relate to their knowledge of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Having the students discover there are many sources of accurate and inaccurate information is the major activity of this lesson. It may be appropriate to divide a large class into small, working groups for this activity. Each individual or group is to find a newspaper, tabloid or magazine article that is either very factual and informs accurately or very misleading and provides inaccurate or wrong messages. These articles could be from newspapers or tabloids found in the grocery or pharmacy. After finding an article, the individual or group should develop a statement explaining why they believe the article is accurate or inaccurate. The groups should share their findings with the total group. Write the methods the students used to learn the truth on the chalkboard and save them for future referencing. Have the students write a short narrative about discovering a truth and its impact on them as a final activity.

Download Activity Worksheet
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